The Juke Joint patrons talked to investigators about Kevin

The Juke Joint patron interviews (1987)

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff’s Department

Investigating Officer(s): Detective Terry Nelson, Detective David Anderson

Case Description: Kevin Gilmore Death Investigation

On December 15 and 16, 1987, the YCSD conducted a canvass of the patrons of The Juke Joint, where Kevin Gilmore was employed. They were looking for anyone who may have known Kevin or recognized him from seeing him there.

The interviews summarized are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all interviews conducted.

Darla Ash

Age / Position: 21 / Secretary
Address: 810 Lincoln Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655

Ms. Ash stopped in The Juke Joint on December 10, 1987, to speak to her friend, waitress Sharon Barclay, to see if her friend was still going to meet her after she got off work to go to a keg party a friend was throwing.

Ash said she wasn’t in the place long, but after looking at a photo, recognized Kevin Gilmore. She said she had been there a few times, and she thought Kevin was cute, but he always seemed too busy to pay attention to her.

She didn’t know who his friends or enemies were, if he had any. She said he seemed to be a person anyone would hire because he worked hard.

Ash said she spent the night after the keg party with her parents, Frank and Jillian Ash.

Omar Epperson

Age / Position: 31 / Unemployed
Address: 1408 Madison Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655

Mr. Epperson said he was at The Juke Joint on December 10th, 1987, with his brother, Raoul.

Being at The Juke Joint was wild, according to Epperson, and it was great with all the weirdos that were always there.

Epperson said he became acquainted with Kevin after talking to him many times. He said Kevin told him that he was hurting for cash, and that he would like to have money to buy some things that he couldn't afford.

Epperson said even though Kevin was friendly, he also seemed like a guy who was holding back a lot of feelings and could explode at any minute.

He said he saw Kevin sitting alone in a car outside The Juke Joint around 1:00 a.m. on the 11th as he was leaving. When questioned about the make and model of the car, Epperson said he didn't notice because it was dark. He said he thinks the car was a dark color.

Carole French

Age / Position: 47 / City Worker
: 229 South 17th Street, Oxford, MS 38655

Mrs. French said she knew who Kevin was and didn't need to see a photo.

The last time she was at The Juke Joint was on a Monday, the 7th.

She said Kevin was always very friendly with her and sometimes would sit down and talk with her. She can't imagine anyone wanting to hurt a guy like him.

According to French, she only saw Kevin angry once and that was at another patron who had had too much to drink and was insulting the girls.

She said she never saw him anywhere other than The Juke Joint.

When asked where she was the night Kevin died, she replied that she had been at home with husband, Louis.

Earl Lamon

Age / Position: 26 / Student
Address: 315 County Road 102, Oxford, MS 38655

Mr. Lamon said he was at The Juke Joint on December 8, 1987, at 10:00 p.m.

After looking at the photo of Kevin, he said he had noticed him sitting at another table with someone. Lamon said it was another guy about the same age as Kevin and they seemed to be in an argument.

When asked what the other guy looked like, Lamon said he was average looking with short, dark hair. Lamon said he heard the person saying he needed his money. Then the noise in the room became too loud for him to hear the rest of the conversation, he said.

After a short pause, Lamon said Kevin was a likeable person and that he knew of no one who would want to hurt him, unless it was that guy that was saying he needed his money.

Lamon said he was at home on December 10th, cramming for a test he had to take on the following Monday.

Karina Mason

Age / Position: 43 / Cashier/Clerk
Address: 203 Vivian Street, Oxford, MS 38655

Mrs. Mason, who is a regular at The Juke Joint, said she had seen Kevin in there many times. She said she also saw him away from there.

When asked where, she replied, "I work at Smitty's, and he came in several times a week. He was usually in a good mood. I saw him on the 10th with some guy I’d never seen before. It was between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m."

She said, "I don’t know who the other guy was, but he looked strong, like he worked for a living. He and Kevin were in a serious conversation."

When asked how she knew that, she said, "They had their heads together and were whispering. Each time I walked by their table, they would stop talking until I had passed."

Mason said she didn’t know anyone who would want to hurt Kevin.

Tobias Winters

Age / Position: 43 / Manager
Address: 719 Taylor Road 303, Taylor, MS 38673

Tobias Winters said he knows Rhonda Pendergrass, who he described as a "bar maid" at The Juke Joint, and he drives over several times a week to see her.

When shown a photo of Kevin Gilmore, Winters remarked, "Oh yeah, I seen him in here. Every time I seen him, he was wearing a dirty apron and he was always looking over his shoulder, like something or someone was after him."

Winters said he often saw Kevin flirting with the young ladies and having fun.

He said the last time he saw Kevin was on December 9, 1987, around 11:30 p.m.

Winters said that Kevin was a good-looking guy and maybe some other guy was jealous enough to kill him, but he didn't know who.

Jeremy Yarbrough

Age / Position: 32 / Mechanic
Address: 1424 Adams Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655

Jeremy Yarbrough is a Juke Joint regular, who sometimes comes alone and sometimes brings his girlfriend.

He knew who Kevin Gilmore was without looking at the photo, saying he was well acquainted with Gilmore.

Yarbrough said he saw Kevin at The Juke Joint on the evening of the 10th, but was unsure of the time although he thinks it was late.

He said Kevin Gilmore was friendly and was always talking about the need for making extra money, and said that’s why he was working. According to Yarbrough, Kevin said that tips were welcome.

Even though he knew Kevin, Yarbrough said he didn’t know anyone who would want to hurt him, and he didn’t see Kevin outside of The Juke Joint.

Bethany Ann Young

Age / Position: 27 / Clerk
Address: Buford Chapel Road, Oxford, MS 38673

Bethany Young said she knew who Kevin Gilmore was after looking at a photo of him.

She works at the University Sporting Goods store on the Square, and said that Kevin came in a lot but never bought anything. He didn't talk either, just looked. She said she got the idea that he wanted all the things he was checking out, but couldn't afford any of them.

According to her, Kevin had been in the shop on December 6, 1987, and again on the 7th. Young said she recognized him because she went to all the basketball games and knew that he was on the team, but she didn’t know which team member he was.

She said went to the games because her 12-year-old niece wanted to go, and it gave Bethany a chance to spend time with her.

The last time Young saw Kevin was at the game Arkansas-Ole Miss game.

Young said she didn’t know of anyone who would want to hurt Kevin, unless it would be someone on an opposing basketball team that Ole Miss had beaten.


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